The Timberwolves can clinch a spot in the eight-team knockout round of the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament with a victory Friday.
Sacramento is at Target Center to face the Wolves on Friday night in both teams' third game of the in-season tournament.
If the Wolves win, they would win their group and advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament, regardless of what happens in their fourth and final in-season tournament game Tuesday against Oklahoma City. They would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Sacramento and Golden State, the only teams who could still finish 3-1 after they face each other Tuesday.
Here's how the in-season tournament — an addition to the league this year as it attempts to drum up interest during a time of the season when fans might not be paying much attention to basketball — works:
1. There are six groups of five teams with each group winner plus two wild cards advancing to an eight-team knockout tournament.
The league designated certain regular-season games before December on the schedule as tournament games.
2. Should they advance to the knockout round, the Wolves would play in the quarterfinals Dec. 4 or 5, with the semifinals and finals taking place Dec. 7-9 in Las Vegas. A potential Wolves quarterfinal game will be home or away based on their final seed coming out of group play. All games count as regular-season games except the finals, with each player on the winning team receiving $500,000. Second place gets $200,000 each. If the Wolves don't make the final eight, the league will schedule two other regular-season games for them to play around that time, one home, one road game.
3. Tiebreakers for seeding will be determined first by head-to-head play during the group stage (no other regular-season games will factor into seeding), followed by point differential and then total points. So teams might have a reason to completely blow the doors off an opponent, depending on how seriously they are taking this tournament.